It's hard not to be excited by how Yoenis Céspedes began his career with the A's. In his first at bat, Céspedes was calm, cool, and collected, working a full count and drawing a walk against Johnny Cueto. His second time up, in an RBI situation, he smoked a single off the mound and into center field. Facing lefty Jeff Francis in his third and final at bat, Céspedes picked on a pitch Francis left up and sent a towering homerun over the LF wall. That'll do, pig. That'll do.
If Céspedes looked like he was in mid-season form, the rest of the A's and Reds put on a vintage "Cactus League" show that included 6 errors, 3 a piece. Josh Donaldson, his footwork garbled as he battled a short-hop, committed one of them but wound up putting together a solid day that included two hits and a walk, an RBI, and two stolen bases.
Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon tossed 4 sharp innings of one run ball, striking out 4 without a walk. Colon's velocity wasn't overly impressive, often sitting at 89MPH, but his location was outstanding and by the hitters' reactions you would have thought Colon was throwing harder. Other random observations of the day:
* The A's didn't just steal 5 bases, they did it with the right kind of aggressiveness: Opportunistic. Donaldson and Collin Cowgill each stole second off a lefty by catching the pitcher paying too little attention and getting a great jump. Eric Sogard stole 3rd, with an alert Cowgill following on a double steal. It wasn't a matter of the A's running just to run, it was a matter of the A's seizing upon each opportunity, and that's how you maximize your offensive potential. The A's aren't going to be a robust power hitting team, so they need to use the running game to their advantage. Today was a good sign.
* Brad Peacock had a pretty solid outing (3 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) but to my eyes had a fastball hitters were able to square and secondary stuff that looked no better than "fine". Having seen him for the first time, I'll stand by my prediction and recommendation that he be the "odd man out" who starts at AAA refining his stuff but who has his Amtrak ticket ready any time for an early-season call.
* When I saw Michael Taylor at spring training 2 years ago, I was surprised by how uncomfortable he looked out in LF. Today, I was surprised that he still looks like no play is routine, as was particularly evident when he bobbled a base hit for an E7. He also struck out in his only AB and is, at this point, an afterthought in the OF mix. Especially with Cowgill looking every bit like the "Pedroia-like overachiever" he has been billed as: 2 for 2 today with a pair of SBs.
* Donaldson's unfamiliarity at 3B, which showed up in his struggle with a pretty routine play for an experienced 3Bman, is going to be hard for the A's to endure on a daily basis. With Landon Powell being released, and Eric Sogard shining as brightly as anyone in camp, I have to think there's a good chance that Sogard will get the lion's share of the 3B starts with Donaldson perhaps platooning at 3B against LHPs and doubling up as the backup catcher. Just a guess.
But today, it all comes back to Yoenis Céspedes and how he debuted looking more like a cool veteran than like someone with butterflies who just landed in a foreign country. As debuts go, this one was close to "storybook".